Friday, December 28, 2012

The Art of Public Space

On November 27th, I went to Urban ReThink for one of their "ReThinking the City" presentations. Award winning artist Gillian Christy and her husband, urbanest Russell Preston discuss the art of creating great public space. Russell showed slides of empty public spaces in Boston that became vibrant community meeting places thanks to simple inexpensive urban design and public art. Gillian does large scale public art, so together they make a great team. Public space design should be about creating authentic community's with people being the first consideration. An active public space inspires art to be in it. Gillian and Russell were the first resident artists at the steelyards in Boston. Huge industrial smoke stacks were modified by adding art to them. Gillian said that her work is about connectors, things that connect people. The redesigning of vacant spaces was referred to as "Tactical Urban-ism" by Russell. Design was done lighter, quicker and cheaper. Short term action resulted in long term change.

 Ed Green from "Rebuilding Together Orlando" and its program, A Door to a Good Night's Sleep, that helps needy children in our community.The organization offers hope to people in hopeless situations. The last Saturday in April will be a construction day in which people come together and help rebuild home in desperate need of repair. To raise money for this effort, Rebuilding Together Orlando partnered with Home Builder's Institute, The Mustard Seed, and a major pharmaceutical company to build bunk beds for children in Orange County. The bunk beds were built with recycled wood doors and "upcycled" materials such as bed frames. They then created "A Door to a Good Night's Sleep" by embracing the talent of local artists to create works of art on the headboards. They have been beautifully painted and are showcased in an online auction. So far 11 headboards have been painted. Anyone can bid on these works of art.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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